Covid 19 Omicron: First community exposure of Omicron confirmed

The first community exposure in New Zealand to the highly infectious Omicron variant has been confirmed.

The Ministry of Health says whole genome sequencing had detected a border-related case of Omicron who had briefly been active in the community.

The person was a recent arrival who returned a positive result on day nine of their self-isolation period.

The ministry said they had previously returned three negative tests for Covid-19 while completing seven days of managed isolation in an Auckland facility.

The Omicron-infected person arrived on a flight from the United Kingdom via Doha on December 16 and was fully vaccinated with the mRNA vaccine, said the ministry.

So far no other Covid-19 infections had been idenfied from the person’s flight.

Investigations were now underway as to the source of the infection, the ministry said.

To date a number of close contacts had been identified.

Those tested had returned negative tests, the ministry said.

There were currently isolating while public health officials were in the process of identifying and contacting other known close contacts.

The infected person was active in Auckland’s CBD on December 26 and 27.

Among the places visted was the Impala Nightclub.

They also visited Sunny Town Chinese Restaurant in Lorne St, Partridge Jewellers, Ahi Restaurant and Soul Bar.

“We are taking this situation very seriously and taking a precautionary approach,” said the ministry.

“However, we do not believe that the individual was highly infectious at the time of the above exposure events.

“We are encourging all Aucklanders to check the Locations of Interest website regularly and follow the advice provided.”

Anyone who had been at the same locations as the infected person were asked to contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

The ministry asked Aucklanders who had no symptoms and were not at a location of interest to leave testing resources free for those who needed it.

Health officials said no exposure events had been identified from the person’s movements between MIQ and the accommodation they stayed in while completing their isolation period.

“We have been doing everything we can to prepare for Omicron and to keep it out of the community since the variant was first identified.

“This has included undertaking whole genome sequencing on every PCR sample taken from the Covid-19 cases detected in interational arrivals.

“Our vaccine rollout remains our key defence against all vairants of Covid-19, including Omicron.

“With 90 per cent of the eligible population now double-vaxxed, and the booster programme underway, New Zealanders are well protected.”

The ministry said more information on the case and next steps would be made available tomorrow.

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